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How Many Fire Extinguishers Does Your Business Need?

Since we have reached the final month of the year, now is a great time to make sure you are up to code and are where you need to be in regards to fire safety.

To improve fire safety in your place of business, you need to make sure you restock and maintain your fire extinguishers. Keeping your building, employees, and assets safe from fire is not just the right thing to do – but it’s necessary in order to comply with fire safety codes.

Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about how many fire extinguishers you’ll need and where they need to be placed in your building. Let’s jump right in!

What’s Your Hazard Level?

The first thing you’ll need to do is learn what hazard level your business is. OSHA has standards that dictate how many extinguishers you’ll need based on the threat level posed to your facility. All in all, there are five classifications. Here they are:

Light Hazard: Extinguishers no further than 75 feet apart

These are buildings where fires are highly unlikely to occur. This includes most office buildings, classrooms, hotels, and churches. Most of the materials in these places are noncombustible and are usually laid out in a way that won’t encourage the spread of a fire.

Ordinary Hazard 1: Extinguishers every 75 feet

Buildings in this class include fabric stores, post offices, and dry cleaners. These are places that have flammable products on-site, but the chances of a fire are low because there’s almost never any kind of meaningful ignition source on site.

Ordinary Hazard II: Extinguishers every 30-50 feet

These include parking garages, hardware stores, and theaters/stages. These are places where there are both flammable materials and ignition sources located within their vicinity. That being said, fires will only start if there’s malicious intent or some grievous human error.

Extra Hazard: Extinguishers every 30-50 feet

These are buildings that are likely to deal with some sort of fire at some point. That’s because there are flammable materials present in addition to combustible liquids and ignition sources all within the same place. These sorts of sites also have lint, dust, and other combustibles around them as well that aid in the spread of a fire. Some businesses that fall into this category include upholstering stores, assembly plants, die casting facilities, and plastic processing plants.

Commercial Kitchens: Extinguishers every 30 feet

Commercial kitchens and restaurants get their own classification. Why? Because they’re in a risk territory unto themselves. There are lots of cooking fuels, high heat, and fast-paced work environments that simply place them at high risk for the occurrence of a fire. Any place where there’s lots of action in a kitchen – hotels, restaurants, or school cafeterias all fall under this risk threshold.

Where Do I Place My Extinguishers?

Now that you know how many extinguishers you should have, now you need to know how to properly place them. While it’s probably best to consult a pro for the best possible arrangement, you can generally follow these three tips:

  • Place extinguishers near any exits or exterior doors 
  • Place the correct extinguishers near the hazards they’re designed to protect against
  • Make sure all of your extinguishers are clearly visible from multiple angles, hanging on a wall or in a corner, and make sure the pathway to them is not impeded. Do not place them in areas where they’re out of sight.

While this guide can certainly give you a quick head start, we definitely recommend hiring a licensed fire protection company to ensure proper placement and to make sure you’ve got the kinds of extinguishers you’ll need. Fire extinguishers aren’t all created equal and are not unlike any set of tools you have. Different kinds of fires call for different kinds of agents in order to put them out. Simply picking up a phone and talking to a licensed fire protection pro will help you figure out exactly what kind of extinguishers you’ll need. In some cases, you may need a couple of different kinds.

The end of the year is always a great time for catching up on those things you simply don’t have time for the rest of the year. For help with fire extinguishers, please feel free to contact us.